26 November 2017

It was like the Price Bloodstock big and small shop at Sha Tin on Sunday, with good things coming in all shapes and sizes as Better Choice and Conte provided a winning double.

John Size-trained Conte is a big, powerful animal weighing close to 1,300 pounds and champion jockey Joao Moreira said his main job was to make sure the four-year-old didn’t get bottled up as he took his record to two starts for two wins.

“I was looking for a way, right from the start, to stay out from anywhere that he might get caught with runners around him and have to interrupt his stride,” Moreira said. “He has a big-striding action and needs to keep flowing. Once I did that, the rest was simple. From day one, I thought there was something special about Conte and he hasn’t let us down so far.”

Size reserves his best compliment “uncomplicated” for his better horses so, when he says Conte is uncomplicated, you know there are bigger targets ahead and you know that the big horse is in the right pair of hands to get there in his own time.

“He is hard not to like. He’s uncomplicated, he does what the jockeys ask him to do and he has his share of talent to go with that good attitude,” Size said. “He enjoyed the 1,400m more today than the 1,200m so we might keep him at that for the moment – although the program is usually the big factor – but he does look like he might run further at some stage.”

Weighing in at a little over 1,000 pounds, Chris So-trained Better Choice is at the other end of the scale in terms of physical presence but he has got off the mark quickly in his career, catching the eye with his run at Happy Valley on debut when he ran home for fifth then better suited by the bigger track at Sha Tin second-up as he beat an impressive debut-winning favourite on Sunday.

“I think he takes a little while to wind up and he liked the longer straight more and, in the future, he will be better over further than 1,200m as well,” So said.

Jockey Nash Rawiller gave Better Choice one of the rides of the day from an awkward draw and said the four-year-old not only relished the bigger run home but had improved in himself from that first experience.

“You never know how much improvement they take from a first run but, riding him a few times since then, he really felt as though he had come on a lot,” Rawiller said. “He was pretty decisive I thought today. I think he has a bit of scope for improvement, he isn’t a big animal but he gives you a great feel. The lack of size would normally concern me but, the way he gets around at trackwork, it shouldn’t be a worry. He is small but strong and when they are relaxed like he is it really takes them a long way. I think he might have a class up his sleeve.”